Architects' e-petition renews call for procurement reform

Will Hurst

Move follows call for change made by Rab Bennetts, RIBA and Design Council Cabe

Leading architects are supporting a new petition calling on the government to tackle public sector procurement’s ’safety-first’ culture.

Building revealed earlier this month that Design Council Cabe has joined forces with the RIBA in lobbying to change the systems used under Ojeu to procure architects, arguing that a risk-adverse and bureaucratic approach unthinkingly favours the largest firms and produces mediocre design.

The latest effort - an e-petition called Save Money - Streamline Procurement, revealed by Building’s sister title BD - was launched by Willie Watt, partner at Dundee-based Nicoll Russell Studios and has been backed by architect and Design Council Cabe trustee Rab Bennetts, who has already promised to lobby ministers over the issue.

The petition calls for procurement to be made less wasteful and fairer and says that the current process of “tick box mentality and policies rather than the talent, skills and services offered by the bidders” must be reformed.

Watt said: “The profession is spending vast sums of money chasing projects, there is little scope for newcomers to get onto the roundabout and the system has become so bloated that the review process is leading to projects grinding to a halt.”

The petition has also won support from Paul Williams, a director at Stanton Williams which designed Central St Martins College’s new home in London’s King’s Cross Central.

“We understand the need to ensure quality is maintained and risk is reduced within the architectural selection process,” Williams said. “But this is not achieved by increasing the amount of soulless and costly box ticking that inevitably sucks the creative life blood out of the public sector procurement process.”

Sign the e-petition at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/273

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